Fix a Squeaky Floor from Above
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Shari in Mississippi who’s got some noisy upstairs neighbors. How can we help?
SHARI: Well, I live in a condominium that was newly refurbished from a school that was built in 1912. And apparently the subfloors are original but they’re – they sprayed something on top right underneath the rugs for soundproofing.
SHARI: I don’t know if you might know what that is.
TOM: It’s probably Gyp-Crete …
TOM: Maybe because of soundproofing or from fireproofing.
SHARI: Yes, that’s what they called it. Gyp-Crete.
SHARI: So anyway, the builders – because it’s under warranty – tried to come and fix it because I was hearing this noise. It sort of sounded like a golf ball being bounced on the floor [behind me] (ph).
SHARI: And they tried to open my ceiling and go through the soffiting there and glue something and then drill some nails to kind of, I guess, keep the two floorboards from …
LESLIE: Rubbing against one another.
SHARI: (INAUDIBLE) Yeah.
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
SHARI: And that actually didn’t work. So then they went upstairs and they pulled back half of the rug of my neighbor and they nailed a few nails down and they thought that they got it. And then last night I heard the same noise. So I’m a little bit exasperated. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, you know, floor squeaks are really, really frustrating. And they’re difficult to track down. Generally they happen because of movement between the subfloor and the floor joist or movement between the actual sheets of flooring. What they try to do is attack it from below by seeing if they can identify those loose, squeaky areas. Is it possible for somebody to go up into your neighbor’s apartment and actually replicate it by sort of stepping in a certain area and making the noise happen?
SHARI: Right, and that’s what they did originally. And like I said, they thought they got it. Is it possible that by fixing one area they created a new problem somewhere else?
TOM: It’s possible. But you also mentioned that they nailed it down, which was probably not the best thing to do. What I would have suggested, if they went through the trouble of pulling back the carpet, is identifying the position of every floor/ceiling joist under that area …
TOM: … and then screwing through the Gyp-Crete with long, like 3+-inch case hardened steel screws; screwing down the subfloor right into the floor joist by going through the Gyp-Crete.
TOM: And that’s going to be much more effective than nails because nails are simply going to pull out; especially if they’re using – let’s say they used a 10-penny common nail and you’ve got an inch of Gyp-Crete there plus the subfloor. The Gyp-Crete doesn’t have any ability to hold the nails. So, you know, it’s going to be a very, very weak connection at best; even if you get a little bit of a nail into the floor joist itself. So that’s why think a screw is probably the better solution here. So if you can get them to pull the carpet back and then screw through the Gyp-Crete, through the subfloor into the floor joist below and then, of course, patch the Gyp-Crete so that there’s no impact on the fire rating of that surface, that’s probably the best thing you’re going to be able to do at this point.
SHARI: OK. And do you think they should take all the furniture out and just look at the whole floor?
TOM: Well, you know, the thing is you’re not necessarily going to be able to see it. But if you’re going to pull carpet back you want to do the whole thing.
TOM: I mean that’s the smart thing to do.
LESLIE: How friendly are you with these neighbors?
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
SHARI: Well, I’m friendly with the neighbor but unfortunately the neighbor is not so friendly with the builder.
SHARI: And I think that’s why they tried to go through the ceiling first (INAUDIBLE)
TOM: You got into the middle of this, huh?
SHARI: Yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE: Bake cookies or a pie. They work wonders.
TOM: Yeah. Is this a condominium?
SHARI: (chuckling) It is.
TOM: Yeah, so unfortunately this is part of the structure and you’ve got to deal with it. but the best time to deal with it is right now while the builder is still there. Because if it’s like most condominiums, you know, after a certain number of units gets sold then the builder exits and it’s up to the association to sort it out.
TOM: And then it gets even more complicated. So I would stick with it right now, even though it might be a bit unpleasant …
TOM: … and see if you can get that floor quieted down.
SHARI: OK. Thanks so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, when you have a condo it gets really sticky when you have a common element problem, which is exactly what that is. That’s part of what’s known as the common element. In other words, Shari doesn’t own that floor or ceiling above her and her neighbor doesn’t. That’s part of what the association owns.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Part of the building.
TOM: But of course, every person that lives in the units is impacted by it. So this is a situation where you really have to get along to try to do the right thing which is just get the repair done.